In England, afternoon tea is a civilized affair, an upscale social hour during which a small meal of exquisitely crafted tiny bites is served alongside a pot of tea. Thankfully for those who like to dress up and sip a bit o' British culture, many places in Los Angeles — from Chado Tea Room to Tres — properly serve up the elegance expected from a proper afternoon tea.
On Christmas, already a day of indulgence, these ceremonies take on an even greater air of opulence as only the most luxurious venues are open to host holiday versions of their standard teas, replete with festive pastries, scones and finger sandwiches served on those iconic tiered china serving trays.
So what do you do when that awkward moment arises on Christmas Day when everyone realizes they’re still in their pajamas at 1 p.m.? Grab grandma, get fancy and fight that post-morning lull at these three L.A. tea houses:
The Peninsula Beverly Hills
Feel good about enjoying your afternoon tea fireside to the sound of a live harpist at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, because a portion of the proceeds from the Christmas-themed version of its legendary spread will be donated to Make-A-Wish of Greater Los Angeles. The elegant hotel off Rodeo Drive hosts tea in The Living Room, a custom venue constructed for the affair, where you can sip on one of 19 choices of custom blends while relaxing on a sofa beside an enormous Christmas tree. It's like sitting in the comfort of your own home, plus a harpist. Seatings are daily at noon, 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Menus are $60, $65 or $78 per person. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd. (310) 975-2736. beverlyhills.peninsula.com.
The Montage Beverly Hills
Since Christmas is a family affair, afternoon tea on Christmas should be too. And for this, The Montage Beverly Hills has you covered. Children can enjoy the Royal Kids’ Tea with various kid-friendly sandwiches like Nutella, peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese. The little ones can also nibble on an assortment of pastries and a mini “champagne” mocktail. In addition to a large assortment of loose teas blended exclusively by tea experts at LA Mill for The Montage Beverly Hills, they are offering special organic seasonal blends with flavors of vanilla, clove, pomegranate and orange peel. And don’t worry, there’s plenty of real Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, holiday cookies and stollen for the adults too. Prices start at $85 per adult and $35 per child. 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 499-4199, montagehotels.com.
The Blvd at The Beverly Wilshire
Even if you’re not a tea drinker, it’s worth heading to the sophisticated restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Christmas Day. Along with a selection of organic teas, they offer mulled-wine, hot apple cider, homemade hot chocolate and, of course, a Champagne flight. Enjoy your beverage with a of choice of sweets and sandwiches from 2 to 5 p.m., which includes pastry chef Stephen Sullivan’s festive creations like chestnut-chocolate cornet, holiday opera cake and cranberry scones with lemon curd, devonshire cream and seasonal compote. Chef Thomas Bellec’s assortment of sandwiches, such as aged cheddar with cinnamon compote or applewood-smoked salmon pinwheel with caviar and crème fraîche are all even more reasons to feel jolly. Prices start at $55 per person. 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 275-5200, theblvdrestaurant.com.